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Persistently Bad Air Earns Bulgaria A Legal Reproof

Country racks up some of the worst air quality stats in the EU, along with other eastern members.

7 April 2017

Bulgaria’s failure to implement measures to cut air pollution brought it a reprimand from the European Court of Justice Wednesday.


The EU court said Bulgaria had failed to fulfill its obligations under the EU directive on ambient air quality in two ways. It failed to keep pollution below the stipulated limits, and failed its obligation to keep periods when air quality falls below those limits as short as possible, The Sofia Globe reports.


Bulgaria has repeatedly ranked last in the EU in terms of reducing the amount of dust in the air, particularly PM10 – inhalable particles with diameters of 10 micrometers and less – according to annual EU air quality surveys.


The country’s longstanding air quality problems were underlined this week by Eurostat data showing that its urban population is exposed to the highest concentration of fine and coarse particulate matter in the EU, SeeNews reports.


Bulgaria was referred to the court by the European Commission in 2015, which said data showed persistent non-compliance with annual and daily PM10 limits, The Sofia Globe says.


Sunset over Sofia. Image via Stella/Flickr.


The court ordered Bulgaria to pay the costs of litigation but has not imposed a fine. The Commission could seek a fine if the country fails to comply with its request to implement measures against air pollution.



  • Particulates smaller than 10 micrometers pose the greatest threat to health because they can carry microscopic solids or liquid droplets deep into the lungs and even into the bloodstream, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says.


  • Central and Eastern European EU members are among the worst performers in Carbon Market Watch’s “EU Climate Leader Board,” which ranks countries by their commitment to the 2015 Paris accords on climate change.


  • Poland and the Czech Republic, joined by Italy and Spain, have pushed to weaken the Commission proposal on meeting the Paris guidelines, the group says. The EU has pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030.

Compiled by Ky Krauthamer

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